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St Basil the Great HEXAEMERON, Complete

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80 Pages (Homilies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)


Page 48

Homily VI



The creation of luminous bodies.

1. At the shows in the circus the spectator must join in the efforts of the athletes. This the laws of the show indicate, for they prescribe that all should have the head uncovered when present at the stadium. The object of this, in my opinion, is that each one there should not only be a spectator of the athletes, but be, in a certain measure, a true athlete himself. [1565] Thus, to investigate the great and prodigious show of creation, to understand supreme and ineffable wisdom, you must bring personal light for the contemplation of the wonders which I spread before your eyes, and help me, according to your power, in this struggle, where you are not so much judges as fellow combatants, [1566] for fear lest the truth might escape you, and lest my error might turn to your common prejudice. Why these words? It is because we propose to study the world as a whole, and to consider the universe, not by the light of worldly wisdom, but by that with which God wills to enlighten His servant, when He speaks to him in person and without enigmas. It is because it is absolutely necessary that all lovers of great and grand shows should bring a mind well prepared to study them. If sometimes, on a bright night, [1567] whilst gazing with watchful eyes on the inexpressible beauty of the stars, you have thought of the Creator of all things; if you have asked yourself who it is that has dotted heaven with such flowers, and why visible things are even more useful than beautiful; if sometimes, in the day, you have studied the marvels of light, if you have raised yourself by visible things to the invisible Being, then you are a well prepared auditor, and you can take your place in this august and blessed amphitheatre. Come in the same way that any one not knowing a town is taken by the hand and led through it; thus I am going to lead you, like strangers, through the mysterious marvels of this great city of the universe. [1568] Our first country was in this great city, whence the murderous daemon whose enticements seduced man to slavery expelled us. There you will see man's first origin and his immediate seizure by death, brought forth by sin, the first born of the evil spirit. You will know that you are formed of earth, but the work of God's hands; much weaker than the brute, but ordained to command beings without reason and soul; inferior as regards natural advantages, but, thanks to the privilege of reason, capable of raising yourself to heaven. If we are penetrated by these truths, we shall know ourselves, we shall know God, we shall adore our Creator, we shall serve our Master, we shall glorify our Father, we shall love our Sustainer, we shall bless our Benefactor, we shall not cease to honour the Prince [1569] of present and future life, Who, by the riches that He showers upon us in this world, makes us believe in His promises and uses present good things to strengthen our expectation of the future. Truly, if such are the good things of time, what will be those of eternity? If such is the beauty of visible things, what shall we think of invisible things? If the grandeur of heaven exceeds the measure of human intelligence, what mind shall be able to trace the nature of the everlasting? If the sun, subject to corruption, is so beautiful, so grand, so rapid in its movement, so invariable in its course; if its grandeur is in such perfect harmony with and due proportion to the universe: if, by the beauty of its nature, it shines like a brilliant eye in the middle of creation; if finally, one cannot tire of contemplating it, what will be the beauty of the Sun of Righteousness? [1570] If the blind man suffers from not seeing the material sun, what a deprivation is it for the sinner not to enjoy the true light!

[1565] In the Theatrum spectators might be covered. cf. Mart. xiv. 29: "In Pompeiano tectus spectabo theatro; Nam ventus populo vela negare solet." cf. Dion Cassius lix. 7. These passages may, however, indicate exceptional cases.

[1566] cf. Greg., In Ez.: Propter bonos auditores malis doctoribus sermo datur: et propter malos auditores bonis doctoribus sermo subtrahitur.

[1567] "By night an atheist half believes in God." Young, N.T. v. 177. cf. also Cic., De nat. Deor. ii. 38: Quis enim hunc hominem dixerit, qui tam certos coeli motus, tam ratos astrorum ordines, tamque omnia ister se connexa et apta viderit, neget in his ullam inesse rationem, eaque casu fieri dicat, quae quanto consilio gerantur, nullo consilio assequi possumus.

[1568] cf. Cic., De Nat. Deor. ii. 62. Est enim mundus quasi communis deorum atque hominum domus, aut urbs utrorumque. Soli etiam ratione utentes, jure ac lege vivunt. Bp. Lightfoot quotes in illustration of Phil. iii. 20, Philo, De Conf. i. 416, M. patrida men ton ouranion choron en ho politeuontai xenon de ton perigeion en ho parokesan nomizousai. So Clem. Alex., Strom. iv. 26, legousi gar hoi Stoikoi ton men ouranon kurios polin ta de epi ges entautha ouk eti poleis, legesthai gar, ouk einai de, and Plato, Rep. ix. 592, B. en ourano isos paradeigma (tes poleos) anakeitai to boulomeno horan kai horonti heauton katoikizein.

[1569] cf. Acts iii. 15.

[1570] cf. Mal. iv. 2.

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Reference address : https://www.elpenor.org/basil/hexaemeron.asp?pg=48